Legendary U.S. goalscorer Brian McBride spoke with me on Monday about his amazement with U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann cutting MLS all-time leading goalscorer Landon Donovan from the World Cup roster. McBride, the third-highest all-time leading goalscorer (30) for the U.S. National Team, emphatically said he'd put Donovan on the roster because of his ability to change games.
Hall of Famer McBride scored goals in two of the three different World Cups in which he played (1998, 2002, 2006) and led EPL Fulham in goalscoring in his tenure there. McBride also captained the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and played for the Columbus Crew, Fulham F.C. and Chicago Fire before retiring in 2010. Now, McBride works as a FOX Sports analyst, a forward coach for the Chicago Fire, and with Allstate offering surprise local soccer clinics with Good Hands® F.C. in under-served communities around National Team games.
Sunday night, Donovan broke the MLS all-time goalscoring record with his 136th tally in a two goal and assist performance for the LA Galaxy in the 4-1 victory over Philadelphia Union.
LE: What's your take on Klinsmann cutting Landon Donovan from the World Cup roster?
McBride: I can tell you why Landon should be on the team, but Jurgen is the coach and his decision – I was amazed. It was a bold decision, but he’s the coach. You hire a man to make to make decisions and he certainly made a strong one leaving Landon off.
I’d have [Donovan] on the team because he provides – you can talk about experience, but for me it’s more his ability to change games. He’s scored some big goals in the history of U.S. Soccer, but he’s also been someone who can come on and basically win a game for you, whether it’s pace with running with the ball at his feet or understanding situations and making the right pass or right run at the right time. Landon has shown that he has all that and that’s why I’d have him be a part of it.
LE: Will his absence affect the USA’s chances in Group Play at World Cup?
McBride: I hope not, I’d hope that doesn’t come to fruition. One thing you can say is that this group is very, very difficult. The chances of coming out of it are already very slim in that it’s the Group of Death. But that’s why you play these games and you’re a part of a special thing like the World Cup because it’s the opportunity to show that you belong and that you’re ready and able to get out of the group. Is it made more difficult [without Donovan]? Yeah, I think so, but [Klinsmann] has decided to go with youth and rely on inexperienced players without Landon being there.
LE: How much input does U.S. Soccer have in determining the National Team roster or is this decision all on Klinsmann’s shoulders?
McBride: Yeah, this is Jurgen’s decision. There’s one thing you can definitely say regarding Jurgen, is he’s his own man who makes his own decisions, he’s very confident. When asked about things, he always gives you an answer. So, this is definitely a decision made by him and no one else - him and his coaching staff. I’m not going to say he doesn’t take input from his coaching staff, but as far as the bureaucracy and higher-ups in U.S. Soccer that aren’t a part of his coaching staff, no, they will not be a part of this decision.
LE: There's been overwhelming public support for Donovan since he was cut and his two goal and assist performance Sunday night spoke for itself. Might Klinsmann bow to public opinion and find a way to get him back on the roster?
McBride: No, I don’t think that’s something Jurgen would do. I do think that if there’s an issue injury-wise, that he’d call Landon right back in. I know Jurgen a little bit and have had a chance to talk with him quite a few times and spent some time with him and he’s not a vindictive person. It’s not a situation where he won’t look at the whole situation. I think he decided what he wanted to get out of the group, Landon wasn’t going to - I don’t want to say help him - but put the team where he wanted to be and that’s the part that’s also very surprising, but there’s no other reason why he’s leave him off the roster. So, if there’s an injury I’d assume he’d be the first player called – any scenario with a midfielder or forward injury.
LE: You’re the third highest-ever goal scorer for the U.S. Men’s National Team. When you get to that elite level, what kind of pressures do you face?
McBride: When you get to the professional level you have pressure. You need to perform every time you step on the field and if you don’t, there’s the possibility of not taking part in the next game. In regards to the National Team, it means not taking part in the next game.
LE: You’re an attacking coach for the Chicago Fire now, right?
McBride: I took on a part-time position with the Chicago Fire as far as the more attacking side of the game, is what I’m involved with Frank Yallop’s staff. He’s got a great staff with C.J. Brown and Clint Mathis and it just worked really well with my schedule with FOX, being pretty much on hiatus with the soccer side of things until late July. It’s just a good fit, it’s something I’ve wanted to do, the next step on the coaching side. Living in Chicago, where my family is, it’s just a good thing.
LE: Do you think you’re making a difference there?
McBride: I think it’s been too early. I hope to bring something good to help the team - positive information, techniques that will help the team and help them grow, but I’ve only had four training sessions with them. It is a small position, but it’s a position that gives me the opportunity to get my feet wet on the coaching side and also try and help build the organization up.
LE: Why isn't Mike Magee isn’t getting call-ups for the National Team?
McBride: Unfortunately for Mike, his chance came in January. There’s so many times that really good players get injured at the wrong time. It was really his chance to show Jurgen he belonged and unfortunately, you don’t want to see it happen to anybody – when it comes time for their chance, for them to get an injury. That’s not allowed Jurgen to see him the way a lot of people see him and I see him.
LE: What do you enjoy most about the your coaching clinics with Allstate?
McBride: The kids, seeing the smiles on their faces. Any time you get a chance to coach, you get to see the joy that kids have just playing the game. The added bonus with Allstate’s Good Hands FC is that after the coaching side and the fun, they get to go home with new uniforms, balls and bag. The joy and happiness you see on their face after they know they’re going to have a whole new kit, it’s pretty amazing. It’s special to be a part of it.
LE: Some of these kids come from disadvantaged backgrounds, right? Have they ever had this kind of gear before, all new stuff?
McBride: No, and it’s nice stuff, top-of-the-line gear. The jersey and the uniforms they get are also branded with the sponsor, Allstate. Not many kids have sponsors on their kits and it makes it look even more authentic. For the most part, they would not have the ability to purchase a lot of this stuff. It’s a joy to be able to help out with their progression in soccer.
LE: How does Allstate pick the teams that get the free clinic and gear?
McBride: I believe that there’s a group at Allstate to determine who is in need, what community is in need most and then they try to organize it from there. It's something they do background on, not something where they just pick a city or town that’s nearby, it’s very much chosen because we want to help out whoever is in most need.
LE: When you were a young player, what most inspired you to stay involved with the game and reach upwards?
McBride: For me, the most standout aspect of soccer when I was young, was that it was with my friends. The friendships I made from being a part of those teams last till this day even. Of course, I was a very active kid and running around was always a lot of fun to me, but the biggest part was the friendships and the team aspect.
LE: What are your first memories of the World Cup and how did it impact you?
McBride: My first memories of the World Cup were pretty late on. It was the Mexico World Cup where Germany was playing Argentina and we had a game at the same time and people were outraged. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is a pretty big deal,” and that was my first memory. Soccer wasn’t on TV very much, at least in Chicago in the area I was from. The realization that it was a big deal was pretty amazing, but late on in my soccer playing youth.Allstate will surprise local soccer clinics in San Francisco, NJ and Jacksonville, FL with a special “Good Hands® F.C.” soccer clinic coached by one of the best players in American soccer history. McBride will host a team practice, and Allstate will present each player with new gear and tickets to the upcoming matches.
Note: Allstate will surprise local soccer teams with clinics in San Francisco, NJ and Jacksonville, FL around the upcoming USMNT games with a special “Good Hands® F.C.” soccer clinic coached by McBride and Allstate will present each player with new gear and tickets to the National Team matches.